The foundation of your child's language skills develop from the time he is born until he is about four years old. And it is an exciting jounrey to witness as a parent. Communication is what enables us to share our thoughts and impressions with others, share memories of the past and our hopes for the future. Language is at the core of our ability to communicate our thoughts and emotions. This ability is unique to humans and is one of our most developed and intellectually advanced capabilities. We are born with an innate urge to communicate; an urge that is central to our very being – even before language skills develop.
Communication is not only verbal. We have many ways to communicate, limited only by our range of feelings. Communicating can be as subtle as a glance, facial expressions, a smile, or soft touch, and for your baby, hand movements, crying, or a wide smile. Well before language becomes a part of the equation, your baby communicates with you using powerful non-verbal communication. This includes different types of crying, laughter, and smiles. By the second half of the first year, your baby uses a wide range of gestures and signs. When she lifts her arms to be picked up, or turns her head away because she doesn’t want to eat, she is communicating her desires very clearly.
Our ability to express ourselves verbally is just one small part of the language and communication equation. No less vital is our ability to understand language and listen. These receptive verbal skills are the input, and expressive verbal skills the output. Receptive verbal skills come first, and this is a far better indication of your baby’s developing language skills than her verbal repertoire in the first months of life. But how can you know what your baby understands if she can’t tell you? If you look closely, she is telling you. You can see that she differentiates between different sounds by her reactions to them. If you ask her where the window is, and she points to it. Or in a simple game of "give and take" when she hands over the item when you ask for it, she is showing you that she understands very well. All these indicate healthy language development. So look at the entire picture, both in terms of expressive and receptive skills to gauge how much she is able to absorb and understand.
The foundation of your child's language skills develop from the time he is born until he is about four years old. At first, your baby does not understand what you are trying to say, and communicates with you by crying, then cooing and moves on to babbling. By the end of the first year, it is likely that your baby will utter his first word, and he may understand a number of words and short sentences. By about 18 months, he can connect two words together, and by age two, can usually compose a sentence. The process is not usually complete until the fourth year, when your child engages in conversation and expresses himself in full sentences. While language skills and vocabulary continue to expand, the basic foundation is usually in place by age four.
With this in mind, your role as a parent during this formative period is significant. To ensure your baby gains healthy language and communication skills, you will need to invest time and effort in appropriate language -related stimulation. But don't be frightened… it’s easier than you think. The very best stimulation is right at your fingertips. Every single interaction with your baby is a veritable treasure chest of language and communication stimulation – from bath time, changing diapers and clothes and feeding time. As you go about these routine tasks, explain what you are doing, what comes next, and tell her how much you love taking care of her. Sing a song or read a story. All this is just what the doctor ordered for healthy language development.
Any advice and information provided in this website is given as suggestions only and should not be taken as a professional medical diagnosis or opinion. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent.